The No. 22 Kentucky Wildcats faced the No. 17 Ole Miss Rebels in their first game in their three-game homestand. The Wildcats defeated the Rebels 11-4 by getting their most hits of the season with 17.
After Kentucky suffered a sweep last weekend, Abbey Cheek explains what the team focused on during practice.
“I think we just really been focused on practice, just like working on the angles on the ball and just trying to get back sets and string them together, so I think that’s what we did tonight,” Cheek said.
In the first inning, the Rebels struggled to find any offensive traction and did not earn any hits. Kentucky’s pitcher Autumn Humes struck out Rebel Abbey Latham. The Wildcats had a lot of success, earning two runs (Cheek and Jaci Babbs) off of four hits.
It was really important to Cheek get off to a quick start in the first inning.
“Oh, it was really important. Like, we know these SEC games matter. It’s like a Super Regional every week and we always say that over and over and it is because our region is so good, our conference is so good,” Cheek said.
Humes forced two consecutive strike-outs (Autumn Gillespie, Brittany Finney) in the second inning. The Rebel’s third batter of the inning, Kaylee Horton, hit a ball straight into Humes’s glove causing their third out. Kentucky earned four runs off three hits including a grand slam by second baseman Alex Martens that allowed senior Jenny Schaper and third baseman Kayla Kowalik to also receive runs.
Humes allowed only one hit and didn't allow the Rebels to earn any runs. Right fielder Lauren Johnson and senior Kelsee Henson hit singles. Johnson allowed Henson to score after her single. After Jenny Schaper hit a double allowing Johnson to score, Cheek scored her 13th homerun of the season, bringing Schaper home. The inning ended with Kentucky scoring four runs off of four hits.
In the fourth inning, Ole Miss had one run scored off of a homerun hit by Abbey Latham. Both Jessica Puk and Brittany Finney both struck out swinging earlier in the inning. Kentucky struggled offensively, only managing to earn one hit (Henson).
In the fifth inning, the Rebels scored off a two-run homerun hit by Gabby Alvarez. Kentucky had two players on base and were unable to get any scores after freshman Kayla Kowalik struck out to end the inning.
After Puk hit a homerun, Kentucky pitcher Grace Baalman replaced Humes in the sixth inning. Baalman struggled, allowing the bases to be loaded at one point but did not allow any other runs. Kentucky was able to score (Taylor Spangler) off of three hits.
In the seventh inning, the Rebels did not earn any runs. Kentucky took the victory in the first game of the series.
Head coach Rachel Lawson describes how the offense performed.
“Our offense came out on fire and we really put them on their heels… our offense, it’s just really hard to come back when you have an offense who scores,” Lawson said.
Lawson saw that her team came together again after a small drought they suffered.
“Tonight, I felt like they got back to normal where they were able to see the big picture, they knew to put together quality at bats, and then pass the bat down to their teammates, so I thought that was the key to everything that happened today,” Lawson said.
The teams will meet once again at John Cropp Stadium at 2 p.m. on Saturday.